When discussing the top birth years in terms of hockey players in New England, the 1998s aren’t likely to be brought up.
Whether it be at the NHL draft or college hockey, the ’98s haven’t had much success. Only five ’98 in New England were selected in the NHL draft. It took the best player in the age group until his third year of eligibility to be picked. If there’s one beacon of hope, it’s that all five drafted players have signed pro contracts.
However, John Leonard might be the only legit NHL prospect of the group. The other four players are destined for careers in the minors. Amherst, Mass., native Leonard was picked in the 2018 draft after a successful freshman season at UMass. He led college hockey in goal scoring this past season with 27 and earned a nod as a Hobey Baker Award Hat Trick Finalist before inking his first pro contract with the San Jose Sharks, the team that drafted him in the sixth round.
Back in the day, Leonard was thought of highly. He earned an invite to the NTDP Evaluation Camp, but fell short. His time in the USHL with Green Bay didn’t go as planned. He’s just another reminder that development is full of ups and downs. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.